The Office of Management and Budget released a memo outlining the Federal Government’s strategy for implementing a zero-trust architecture (ZTA) across their technology footprint. This memo is part of a broader effort to modernize US cybersecurity in the wake of a string of high-profile attacks on the US and US companies.
While some of the requirements in the memo are already commonplace security policies, there are a few guidelines in the memo that might be a dramatic change from the strategy some organizations are currently employing. Here’s our summary of some of the new guidelines we think you shouldn’t miss:
- Authenticate users to applications, not to networks. It’s no longer good enough to lean on perimeter security to trust that traffic on your network is trustworthy. Single-sign-on solutions are mature and widely supported – use them for every application!
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA), but don’t use one-time passcodes, SMS passcodes, or push notification prompts. These are susceptible to phishing attacks. Use a solution that is resistant to phishing, like FIDO2, WebAuthn, or PIV.
- Stop requiring that users regularly change passwords or use special characters. While this once was considered best practice, it is now known to decrease security because it leads to password reuse (and credential-stuffing attacks) or unsafe storage practices.
- Consider eliminating passwords entirely! It is possible to have multi-factor authentication without one of the factors being a password. It’s more convenient for your users, and a password isn’t adding much security if your users are reusing it across multiple sites and it ends up in a password breach.
- Encrypt all HTTP, DNS, and email traffic, even on internal networks. It’s not uncommon to see these unencrypted on many networks, but these all carry sensitive information, and leaving them in plaintext leads to an increased attack surface.
- Isolate environments and assign access with granular attribute-based access control, rather than giving role-based access to users or enhanced visibility by default.
- Have a process in place to take security vulnerability reports from the general public, and respond to them promptly.
Grey Market Labs is a Certified B-Corp founded with the mission to protect digital life. We build revolutionary software including Replica and hardware products, and partner with like-minded industry leaders, to create a future with “secure-environments-as-a-service”.
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